The guide’s life

So, I’m about a month behind in posting this…but the highlight of April for Josh and Aminda is celebrating our wedding anniversary – four fun-filled years. This year we celebrated by returning to our ceremony site to have drinks and enjoy the sunset.

Josh’s month has been packed as he’s teaching experiential outdoor classes every weekend in addition to teaching “classroom” courses (all for Community College) and running custom events.  From climbing to caving to canyoneering, the outdoor trips are as interesting as they are exhausting.  When we were first together I felt a little jealous that Josh would spend every weekend out on a fun adventure then wouldn’t have any time or energy left to do anything with me.  So he encouraged me to come along with him on a couple trips.  Doing so changed my attitude.

Josh is fortunate to do what he loves.  He has a fabulous job that’s a great fit for him.  But I know it’s hard work that’s not for everyone.  The work starts before every trip as he spends hours shopping for food, packing and organizing gear and responding to student questions.  Some of them are pretty weird, requiring some patience and tact.  Like the girl who wrote to ask whether “car camping” meant that the whole class would be sleeping together in the single van that they all travel in.

After spending two hours in that van with 12-14 strangers, Josh then gets to guide them through the day’s adventures.  Here, he plays the role of guide and gear-schlepper extraordinaire.  He often travels twice the distance as his students, running ahead of them to make sure the path is clear, then back again to the end of the line to make sure everyone’s still in it. And he usually carries a pack that’s twice as large.  In canyoneering for example, the students are already carrying a good amount of personal gear such as wetsuits and helmets, so Josh gets stuck with everything else; the ropes, hardware and other weighty gear.  The best part is that during the day, it all gets wet, so on the hike out the pack weighs twice as much as it did on the way in.

Then, back at camp Josh turns into master of camp cuisine. He whips up tasty concoctions that simmer in carefully stacked Dutch-ovens.  Tortilla pie and brownies and night then up again early to make pancakes and eggs.  He stays motivated to complete this chore by entertaining himself with student eating contests.  Nobody’s eating their veggies?  He’ll take care of that by daring them to eat the biggest handful of lettuce, straight out of the bag.  Deeeelicious!

Finally, since these are classes after all, he does play coach and counselor.  These definitely aren’t the type of classes that you just stand in front of and lecture. More often, Josh will be standing over five inexperienced belayers, watching them like a hawk to make sure all the climbers return home safely.  In this role he gets to create a quasi-cohesive and supportive team out of 10-20 strangers.  When the group includes one of those special people that are just a little harder to get along with, Josh gets to be the one that takes the lead in being their buddy.

In the climbing class, there is often the cocky 18-year-old that thinks he’s invincible. Josh gets to diplomatically reign him in a little – trying hard is good, popping a tendon, not so much.  Perhaps the most awkward situation for him is the out-of-shape girl on the caving trip.  There’s always one.  And she always approaches that narrow, unyielding passageway with complete confidence.  Then, in the complete darkness of the cave, she’s fully confronted with what no mirror can show her – she’s bigger then she thought she was.  Thankfully, professor Josh is there to comfort her until she stops crying and continues on.

So, I’ll just stay at home, thank you – maybe spend the weekend with other friends or on my own projects. I’ll just be sure to have dinner ready for him when he gets home…and maybe a massage.


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